Russia to pay 1.72 million euros for Chechnya deaths: court

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The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday ordered Moscow to pay 1.72 million euros (2.2 million dollars) in compensation for the death of 24 Chechens in a 2000 bombing of their village by Russian forces.

The victims, most of whom had sought refuge in caves, were killed when the Russian army bombarded the village of Katyr-Yurt in a bid to stop the breakout of Chechen separatist forces from Grozny in February 2000.

The Strasbourg-based court awarded a total 1.72 million euros to the 29 plaintiffs in the case, who are each to receive sums ranging from 30,000 to 120,000 euros for moral damage.

Russia can appeal the decision within three months.

"The (Russian) operation had a legitimate aim -- the fight against separatist rebels -- but it did not do enough to ensure that civilians be spared," the Strasbourg-based court said.

It cited a violation of the right to life, a lack of effective recourse and a faulty investigation.

In a separate case, the court awarded a total of 65,000 euros to the mother and aunt of Isa Aytamirov, a Chechen man kidnapped and killed by Russian troops during a February 2003 operation in the village of Novy-Tsentoroy.

It took Russian justice to task for failing to conduct an effective probe of the case.

The court has condemned Moscow more than 150 times for rights abuses in the Russian Caucasus, notably Chechnya.

It is currently handling more than 260 cases of alleged rights abuses raised by Chechen plaintiffs.

Russia has been paying up but has been ignoring court requests to reopen enquiries.

Russia's army moved into Chechnya in 1999 to re-establish control following defeat in a first war against separatist guerrillas in 1994-1996.

© 2010 AFP

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